TagDemocratic primaries

Ilhan Omar wins MN-05 Democratic primary

Incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar defeated four candidates in the Democratic primary for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. As of 9:25 p.m. Central Time, she had received 57% of the vote. Antone Melton-Meaux was second with 39%.

This was the first time in more than 85 years that an incumbent U.S. representative from Minnesota had more than three primary challengers.

Omar is among four congresswomen often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). She said her accomplishments in the House include passing more amendments than any other member of the Minnesota delegation, working to extend the Deferred Enforced Departure status for Liberians in the state, and introducing the Student Debt Cancellation Act.

Melton-Meaux, a lawyer and mediator, criticized Omar by saying she was more focused on arguments with the president and celebrity status than on the needs of the district. He said he would find common ground with others to achieve progressive goals.

As of July 22, Omar had raised $4.3 million to Melton-Meaux’s $4.2 million.

Omar won the 2018 general election by a margin of 56 percentage points. All 435 seats in the U.S. House will be up for election on November 3, 2020. As of August 2020, Democrats have a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There is one Libertarian member, and there were four vacancies.

Zuckerman wins Democratic gubernatorial primary in Vermont

David Zuckerman won Vermont’s Democratic gubernatorial primary on August 11, 2020. With 55% of precincts reporting, he had received 44% of the vote. Rebecca Holcombe was second with 33%. Patrick Winburn and Ralph Corbo received less than 10% each.

Zuckerman is Vermont’s lieutenant governor. He previously served in the state Senate as a Progressive/Democrat from 2013 to 2017 and in the state House as a Progressive Party member from 1997 to 2011. Holcombe was Vermont’s education secretary from 2014 to 2018.

Vermont has a Republican governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. It is one of 14 states with a divided government. Vermont is also one of four states that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and has a Republican governor in 2020. Three election forecasters rate the general election either Likely Republican or Solid Republican.

Incumbent Gov. Phil Scott (R) is seeking re-election and won the Republican primary.

Kahele wins Democratic nomination to succeed Gabbard in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District

Hawaii State Sen. Kaiali’i Kahele defeated Brian Evans, Brenda Lee, and Noelle Famera to win the Democratic nomination in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District Aug. 8. Kahele received 77% of the vote to Evans’ 9%, Lee’s 8%, and Famera’s 6%.

Kahele, who has served in the Hawaii state Senate since 2016, said his policy priorities were increasing funding for public education, expanding access to healthcare, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Both Evans and Famera completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Evans, who was the Republican nominee for the seat in 2018 and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014, said he would focus on ending the disrespectful treatment of sacred land, increasing tax rates on foreign residents, and responding to medical errors.

Famera, a businesswoman with experience in insurance sales, said she supported a universal basic income program, a data rights bill, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Incumbent Tulsi Gabbard (D), who was first elected in 2012, ran for president this year rather than seeking re-election. Gabbard won each general election in the 2nd District by a margin of 50 percentage points or greater, and election forecasters say the district is safely Democratic.

Bush defeats incumbent Clay in Democratic primary rematch in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District

Cori Bush defeated incumbent William Lacy Clay and Katherine Bruckner in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District Democratic primary. Bush received 49% of the vote to Clay’s 46%. Clay is one of seven incumbent representatives who have lost in primaries in 2020.

Bush challenged Clay in the district’s 2018 primary, which Clay won with 57% of the vote to Bush’s 37%. Clay was first elected in 2000. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed his re-election bid.

Bush received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jamaal Bowman, a candidate for New York’s 16th District who defeated 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in the district’s June 23 Democratic primary.

Additional reading:

Tlaib defeats Jones in Michigan’s 13th District Democratic primary

Incumbent Rep. Rashida Tlaib defeated Brenda Jones in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Democratic primary. With 90% of precincts reporting, Tlaib had received 66% of the vote to Jones’ 34%.

The primary was a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 29 (August 5, 2020)

This week: Cori Bush defeats incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay, Ilhan Omar releases first TV ad, and Ocasio-Cortez appears in an ad for Ed Markey.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from Aug. 4.

  • Arizona’s 1st Congressional District: Incumbent Tom O’Halleran defeated Eva Putzova. O’Halleran received 59% to Putzova’s 41% with 98% of precincts reporting. O’Halleran, a former Republican member of the state legislature, was first elected to the seat as a Democrat in 2016. He co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition. Putzova is a former member of the Flagstaff City Council.
  • Arizona’s 6th Congressional District: Hiral Tipirneni won with 54% of the vote to Anita Malik’s 36%, with 95% of precincts reporting. In the general election, Tipirneni will run against incumbent David Schweikert (R) in a district rated lean Republican.
  • Michigan’s 13th Congressional District: Incumbent Rashida Tlaib won with 66% of the vote to Brenda Jones’ 34%, with 87% of precincts reporting. The race was a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the district’s regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election. Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary.
  • Missouri’s 1st Congressional District: Cori Bush defeated incumbent William Lacy Clay and Katherine Bruckner. Bush received 49% of the vote to Clay’s 46%. Clay is one of seven incumbent representatives who have lost in primaries in 2020, along with Steve Watkins who lost the Republican primary in Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District on Aug. 4.
  • Bush challenged Clay in the district’s 2018 primary, which Clay won with 57% of the vote to Bush’s 37%. Clay was first elected in 2000. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed his re-election bid. Bush received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jamaal Bowman, a candidate for New York’s 16th District who defeated 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in the district’s June 23 Democratic primary. 
  • Washington’s 10th Congressional District, top-two: As of 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time on Aug. 5, this race had not been called. Marilyn Strickland (D) led with 21.4% of the vote. Beth Doglio (D) had 14.4%, Kristine Reeves (D) had 13.2%, and Rian Ingrim (R) had 10.6%. Nineteen candidates—eight Democrats, eight Republicans, one independent, one Essential Workers Party candidate, and one Congress Sucks Party candidate—ran in the primary. Denny Heck (D), in office since 2013, sought election as lieutenant governor, leaving the seat open.
  • Washington governor, top-two primary: Incumbent Jay Inslee (D) and Loren Culp (R) were the top two finishers among a field of 36 candidates and will compete in the general election. With half of precincts reporting, Inslee received 52% of the vote and Culp received 17%.
  • St. Louis Circuit Attorney: Incumbent Kimberly Gardner won the Democratic primary for circuit attorney in St. Louis. She received 61% of the vote to Mary Pat Carl’s 39%. The race was a rematch. Gardner and Carl ran in the four-candidate Democratic primary in 2016, where Gardner received 47% of the vote and Carl was second with 24%.

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On vice-presidential ambition

“Biden’s biggest strength is that he has from the beginning of the primary contest polled best in head-to-head matchups against Trump. ‘Electability’ was always the number one issue for most Democratic primary voters desperate to put an end to Trump’s reign … But that doesn’t mean even older, more moderate Democratic voters want Biden determining the character of the party going forward–much less the younger … progressive wing winning an increasingly larger share of the party’s internal battles. Biden is a calming caretaker for our democracy, not the face of the Democratic Party’s future. His vice-presidential pick shouldn’t be determining that, either.


“In short, an underrated characteristic of Biden’s vice-presidential pick should be that she not necessarily want the job in four to eight years. Not as a knock against anyone he might choose, but because after the immediate danger of Trump is passed, Democratic voters should be at liberty to freely choose the direction of the party over the next decade without being locked into the defensive, electability-driven calculations of the Biden campaign in 2020.”

David Atkins, Washington Monthly, Aug. 1, 2020

“Fourteen American vice presidents have gone to become president, including John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and George H.W. Bush. But even as Joe Biden vies to become the 15th, a warped, sexist narrative has emerged in recent days that his female running mate should not have presidential ambitions herself …


“Political ambition is tantamount to striving for power, and when it comes from women, it makes people deeply comfortable. American culture tends to like unassuming models and actresses who are discovered magically, serendipitously, plucked from obscurity, aw-shucks-ing their way up the ladder. To try is to offend the increasingly delicate status quo of white-male rule and the evident fragility of Biden’s inner circle. The truth is: Every woman on their short list is powered by ambition. They could never have become senators and governors and congressional leaders without it—especially not in the male-dominated world of politics, with people like Biden’s top donors working against them.”

Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, Aug. 3, 2020

U.S. Congress

Ilhan Omar releases first TV ad in MN-05

Rep. Ilhan Omar released her first TV ad ahead of the Aug. 11 primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. 

In the ad, Omar says, “We can translate our cries for justice into legislation, and that’s the fight we have been leading in Congress.” In a second ad, Omar said Antone Melton-Meaux, one of the five primary candidates, was a partner at “one of the worst union-busting law firms in the country” and that he used nondisclosure agreements to prevent women from talking about sexual harassment.   

Melton-Meaux says he would find common ground with others to reach progressive goals. In a recent ad, he said, “I won’t be chasing cameras or selling books. I’ll work for you.” Melton-Meaux’s campaign slogan is “Focused On the Fifth.”

As we recently reported, Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. As of July 22, Omar had raised a total of $4.3 million to Melton-Meaux’s $4.2 million.

Two primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Click on candidates’ names below to read their responses.

If you’d like to learn more about the survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

Ocasio-Cortez appears in Markey ad

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appeared in an ad for Sen. Ed Markey, who faces Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary

Ocasio-Cortez said Markey was an original cosponsor of Medicare for All legislation and that he co-authored the Green New Deal resolution with her in 2019. She said, “When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts. It’s the age of your ideas.”  

Markey, 74, has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy, 39, has been in the U.S. House since 2013. 

Kennedy says he supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. At a recent debate, he said Markey hadn’t done enough to implement the Green New Deal. Kennedy has said the race is part of the “fight of my generation,” but also said, “This isn’t about age, and it isn’t about seniority. … It’s about meeting this moment and doing everything that you can possibly do to take it on.”

Along with Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Markey. Recently, the Massachusetts Teachers Association backed him.

Kennedy’s endorsers include Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and former Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died last month. 

A recent JMC Analytics poll found Markey with 40% support, Kennedy with 36%, and 24% undecided. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 4.4 percentage points.

The poll also asked if Markey’s 44 years in Congress would make respondents more or less likely to vote for him—30% said less likely, 30% said more likely, and 40% said it made no difference. When asked about the effect of the Kennedy family name, 20% said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate with it, 24% said less likely, and 57% said it made no difference. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

Feltes, Volinsky spar over unemployment benefits in New Hampshire gubernatorial debate

State Sen. Dan Feltes (D) and New Hampshire Executive Councilman Andru Volinsky (D) discussed the coronavirus pandemic and economic recovery plans in their first in-person gubernatorial debate on July 29.

Feltes criticized Volinsky’s position on reevaluating enhanced unemployment insurance, saying, “This election is about who’s [sic] side are you on – working people and working families. You got to be on their side full time, not part time.”

Volinsky, who said the amount of the weekly $600 federal benefit should be reconsidered, defended his record as an attorney and public servant. “No one gets to claim that mantle in this race. We’re both committed to working-class people,” Volinsky said.

The primary is scheduled for Sept. 8. On the Republican side, incumbent Chris Sununu (R), who was first elected in 2016, faces two opponents. Two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win the general election and a third says it leans Republican.


*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Cabrera and Farmer participate in Connecticut Senate District 17 debate

On July 28, Jorge Cabrera and Justin Farmer participated in a virtual debate sponsored by The Valley Independent Sentinel, WNHH Radio, and The New Haven Independent. Cabrera and Farmer are vying for the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Sen. George Logan (R-17). 

Cabrera is an organizing director with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 919. He received endorsements from the Connecticut branches of the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union as well as from the District 17 Democratic Party.

Farmer is a member of the Hamden Legislative Council. The Democratic Socialists of America, Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut, and the Connecticut Young Democrats endorsed his campaign.

On a question about healthcare, Cabrera discussed his support for a public option, saying, “I’m a big believer in high-quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.” Farmer said, “I am a big proponent of Medicare for All,” adding that “We can have a Connecticut option to allow our undocumented community members to be covered.”

In Connecticut, candidates participate in conventions before proceeding to primaries. A candidate can win the nomination outright at a convention so long as no other candidates receive more than 15% of the delegate vote. On May 27, we covered the convention vote setting up the contest between Cabrera and Farmer. Delegates supported Cabrera over Farmer 39-10, enough votes to net Cabrera the party’s endorsement, but not enough to win the nomination outright.

In 2018, Logan defeated Cabrera, that cycle’s Democratic nominee, 50.1-49.9%, a margin of 85 votes. In 2016, District 17 supported Hillary Clinton (D) over Donald Trump (R), 53-44%.

Sunrise Rhode Island endorses challenger Potter in House District 16 primary against Rep. Millea

On July 29, Sunrise RI, the Rhode Island affiliate of the national Sunrise Movement, endorsed Brandon Potter (D) in the House District 16 primary, where he is challenging incumbent Rep. Christopher Millea (D-16). Sunrise Movement describes itself as “a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.”

Announcing the endorsement, Potter, a sales manager, said, “We not only have a moral obligation to protect our environment, we have a major economic opportunity to invest in renewable energy.” In addition to Sunrise RI, he received endorsements from the Rhode Island affiliates of Planned Parenthood Votes! and Our Revolution.

Millea was first elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Robert Lancia (R), 53-47% in the general election. In his campaign announcement, Millea said that he “has been a constant champion for education reform and governmental transparency.” He added, “There is far more work to be done for the residents of District 16, but we have made tremendous progress.”

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face Maryann Lancia (R), the wife of former Rep. Lancia, in the general election. 

Power players

“The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is the centralized hub for executing a comprehensive redistricting strategy that shifts the redistricting power, creating fair districts where Democrats can compete.” – National Democratic Redistricting Committee website

Since 2017, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee says it has been working to position Democrats favorably for redistricting through litigation, legislation, and elections. Currently led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, it also counts President Barack Obama (D) among its notable supporters. 

As of June 30, its PAC has raised $3,899,804 and spent $2,397,598 this election cycle. Among its largest campaign contributions are $250,000 to Common Good Virginia, a committee supporting Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), $75,000 to the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, and $75,000 to the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

Click the following links to view the organization’s 2019-2020 electoral targets and endorsements.

Previewing Missouri’s 1st Congressional District Democratic primary

Incumbent William Lacy Clay, Katherine Bruckner, and Cori Bush are running in the Aug. 4 Democratic Party primary in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. Bush challenged Clay in the district’s 2018 Democratic primary, which Clay won, receiving 57% of the vote to Bush’s 37%.

Clay was first elected in 2000, replacing his father, former Rep. William Lacy Clay, Sr. (D). Clay Jr. served in the Missouri State Legislature from 1983 to 2001. He received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In their endorsement, the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board wrote, “[Clay] has been a steady, predictable representative and a reliable vote for mainstream Democratic priorities — including the fight against poverty and for social justice.”

Bush is a nurse and civil rights organizer who was involved with demonstrations in Ferguson after the shooting death of Michael Brown by police. She received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jamaal Bowman (D), a candidate in New York’s 16th District who defeated 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel (D) in the district’s June 23 primary. In his endorsement, Bowman said, “Bush understands the struggles facing her communities, because she’s lived them herself … She will fight to confront racist and reckless policing … and I’m proud to support her grassroots campaign.”

Pre-primary reports show Clay raising $744,000 and Bush with $569,000. At this same point in the 2018 primary, Clay had raised $407,000 compared to Bush’s $139,000.

Clay and his father have represented the 1st District since 1969. Three race-tracking outlets rate the district as Solid/Safe Democratic. The winner of the primary will face Libertarian Alex Furman and the winner of the Republican primary, either Winnie Heartstrong or Anthony Rogers, in the general election.

Blue Dog Coalition co-chairman O’Halleran faces Our Revolution-backed Putzova in Arizona primary

Rep. Tom O’Halleran faces challenger Eva Putzova in the Democratic primary for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District on August 4. O’Halleran was first elected to the House in 2016 and did not face a primary challenger in 2018.

O’Halleran, who served eight years in the state legislature as a Republican before leaving the party in 2014, is co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of House Democrats describing themselves as “pragmatic Democrats, appealing to the mainstream values of the American public.” His endorsers include Everytown for Gun Safety, the League of Conservation Voters, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Putzova, an immigrant from former Czechoslovakia and a former member of the Flagstaff City Council, says she is running to limit the influence corporations have over policy. Putzova says she will fight for “freedom from illness and medical bills, freedom from crushing student loan debt, freedom to enjoy a healthy life on this planet.” Former 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (D), Brand New Congress, and Our Revolution each endorsed her.

Arizona’s 1st Congressional District is one of 30 districts nationwide represented by a Democrat that Donald Trump (R) carried in 2016. Trump carried the district by a margin of 1.1 percentage points that year, while O’Halleran was re-elected in 2018 by a margin of 8.8 percentage points.

Arizona is among five states holding Congressional primaries next Tuesday. Ballotpedia identified one other Congressional primary in Arizona as a battleground: the special Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Incumbent Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat in 2018, will face Daniel McCarthy and write-in candidate Sean Lyons as she seeks the Republican nomination to fill the remainder of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) unexpired term.

Additional reading:

Five states to hold congressional primaries on August 4

On August 4, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington are holding statewide primaries. Between these five states, 48 congressional seats—45 U.S. House seats and three U.S. Senate seats—are up for election.

Arizona is holding a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by former Sen. John McCain’s (R) death on August 25, 2018. Martha McSally (R) is the current appointed incumbent, and she is running in the August 4 Republican primary. The winner of the November 3 general election will take office on January 3, 2021, and serve the remaining two years of McCain’s term. Arizona is also holding primary elections for all nine of its U.S. House seats on August 4.

Both Kansas and Michigan are holding congressional primaries for Senate and House seats. In Kansas, elections are being held for the state’s Class II Senate seat currently held by Pat Roberts (R) and all four of the state’s U.S. House seats. Michigan is holding elections for the Class II Senate seat held by Gary Peters (D) and all 14 of its House seats.

Neither Missouri nor Washington has a Senate seat up for election in 2020. Missouri is holding elections for its eight House seats, and Washington is holding elections for its 10 House seats.

The 45 House seats up for election on August 4 represent 10.3% of the 435 total seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, all of which are up for election in 2020. The three Senate seats up for election that day equal 3% of the Senate’s 100 total seats and approximately 8.6% of the 35 Senate seats up for election this year (33 are up for regular election; two are up for special election).

Candidates in all five states are competing to advance to their respective states’ general elections scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Additional links:

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Ilhan Omar challenger raises $3.2 million in second quarter, Working Families Party spends in support of Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders endorses in Vermont gubernatorial primary

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On Medicare for All in the Democratic Party platform

“The platform does nod to ‘Medicare for All,’ the policy backed by Sanders, saying: ‘We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach.’

“Platform committee co-chair Denis McDonough, who served as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called it the ‘boldest Democratic platform in American history.’

“Still, anticipating virtual floor fights and frustration from progressive activists who want the party to set an even more aggressive policy course, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said at the top of the committee meeting that ‘we should never confuse unity with unanimity, nor should we confuse debate with division.’”

Denis McDonough, Tom Perez, quoted by Scott Detrow, NPR, July 27, 2020

“History teaches a clear lesson: The fact that our nation is the only advanced industrial country without universal healthcare cannot be blamed on Republican obstruction alone. It was also caused by Democratic leaders who’ve spent decades catering to corporate interests (while collecting their campaign donations)—and refusing to fight for universal coverage. 

“This history of Democratic obstruction and vacillation is why hundreds of elected delegates to next month’s Democratic convention have put their foot down. They’ve signed a petition pledging to vote down the party platform if it ‘does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.’ The petition’s initiator is Judith Whitmer, chair of the convention’s Nevada delegation. She told Politico: ‘This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their healthcare at the same time.’

“By demanding of the party leadership what Harry Truman called for 72 years ago, Whitmer and other Democratic activists are indeed ‘giving ’em hell.’” 

Jeff Cohen, Common Dreams, July 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

MN-05: Melton-Meaux raises $3.2 million in second quarter

Antone Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. They and three others are running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary on Aug. 11.

As of June 30, Omar raised $3.9 million to Melton-Meaux’s $3.7 million. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot wrote, “Much of the money on both sides comes from out of the state, reflecting Omar’s national profile as one of the first Muslim women in Congress and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.”

Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—who previously represented the 5th District—held a press conference July 20 in which Martin said contributions to Melton-Meaux’s campaign were efforts to “silence a progressive champion rooted in xenophobia.” Martin said the average ActBlue contribution Melton-Meaux received in May was $650 compared to Omar’s average of $18. Melton-Meaux said he received five times the amount of contributions Omar did from within the 5th District. Omar said her campaign received more individual contributions from within the state than Melton-Meaux’s.

Omar is among four House members often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) recently endorsed Omar. Pelosi said in September 2019 that she has a policy of only endorsing incumbents. 

Working Families Party spends in support of Tlaib in MI-13

The Working Families Party and Detroit Action are spending $100,000 in support of Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District primary. Tlaib faces Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Politico’s Holly Otterbein reported that the independent expenditure campaign “will be focused on young Black and Latino voters, and is expected to highlight [Tlaib’s] record on racial justice, including her promotion of the BREATHE Act, which seeks to eliminate federal programs ‘used to finance and expand’ law enforcement.”

The Detroit News’ Melissa Nann Burke and Christine Ferretti wrote:

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, made history as one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress. But Jones’ surrogates are pitching their candidate, who is African American, as a better choice to lead the majority-Black district amid a national movement for racial justice. Blacks comprise nearly 54% of the district’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The primary is a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

The Michigan AFL-CIO recently endorsed Tlaib. In 2018, the group endorsed Jones. Jones’ 2020 endorsers include several local elected officials and Black pastors.

The primary is Aug. 4.

AG commissioner endorses Vazquez in FL-18

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the only Democrat to win statewide office in 2018, endorsed Oz Vazquez in Florida’s 18th Congressional District primary.

Fried said in her endorsement, “Florida’s 18th Congressional District deserves a Congressperson who will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, will be a champion for clean water, and will work to get things done for the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches.”

Vasquez is a lawyer and former Americorps volunteer. He faces Pam Keith, a lawyer and Navy veteran.

The Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Vasquez in June. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Keith.

Both Keith and Vazquez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Read Keith’s responses here and Vazquez’s responses here.

Incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), first elected in 2016, is seeking re-election and faces a primary challenger. Three election forecasters rate the general election Safe or Solid Republican. The primary election is Aug. 18.

State executives

Candidates prepare runs for Virginia lieutenant governor, attorney general

Candidate fields have begun to emerge for two top-level executive offices in Virginia ahead of next year’s primaries. This month, five Democrats, including three members of the legislative class of 2017, announced their intention to run for executive office.

Although there are no term limits on the offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor, Virginia is the only state where governors are prohibited from serving back-to-back terms. Both Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) have suggested they will run to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Delegate Jay Jones (D), who was elected to the Norfolk-area district his father represented during the 1990s, became the first member of either major party to declare his intention to run for state attorney general on July 13. Jones, who is Black, would be Virginia’s first nonwhite attorney general. He said in his campaign kickoff video that challenging efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act would be among his priorities.

On July 14, Del. Hala Ayala (D), who defeated incumbent Rich Anderson (R) to win a district representing Prince William County, said she would run for lieutenant governor in 2021, becoming the first candidate to officially enter the race. She said she was running to ensure Virginia was better-prepared for future public health emergencies, including expanding Medicaid coverage.

State Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D), who defeated incumbent Scott Lingamfelter (R) in another Prince William County contest, said she was exploring a run for lieutenant governor. 

On July 22, Norfolk city Councillor Andria McClellan (D) announced she was also exploring a run for lieutenant governor. McClellan was first elected to the city council in 2016, defeating incumbent Barclay Winn. Ayala, Guzman, or McClellan would each be the first woman elected to the office.

Sean Perryman said on July 27 that he was exploring a run. Perryman, a former counsel to the House Oversight Committee under Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), is the president of the Fairfax branch of the NAACP, Virginia’s largest.

Other Democrats who have indicated they are considering a run for lieutenant governor include former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman and Mike Pudhorodsky.

Bernie Sanders endorses David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s (D) run for governor Monday. The announcement came as Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D) aired their first television ads ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.

Holcombe’s ad, titled “Believe”, first aired July 16. The ad introduces Holcombe as a former educator and says she believes Vermont can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in a stronger position than when the pandemic started if it takes the opportunity to expand healthcare and education and attract high-paying jobs.

Zuckerman’s ad, titled “Building our Future”, displays clips of Zuckerman working on his farm. The ad says that while daily life has been disrupted by the pandemic, farm work needs to continue.

A third candidate, attorney Pat Winburn, began running television ads when he entered the race in March. Winburn, who has not previously held elected office, says he is running to bring a new perspective to state government.


The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Preliminary New York legislative results show progressive challengers defeated five incumbents

New York’s primaries occurred on June 23, but due to the coronavirus, results have been delayed as absentee ballots continue to be counted. Within the past week, additional votes counted show at least five progressive challengers defeating incumbent state Assembly members.

The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferre-Sadurni wrote, “A slew of progressive challengers upset entrenched incumbents in the New York Legislature … cementing their movement’s influence in Albany and making it likely that the state government will become one of the most liberal in the nation.”

The NYC Democratic Socialists of America, for example, endorsed one incumbent, Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18), and four others—Jabari Brisport (D), Phara Souffrant Forrest (D), Zohran Mamdani (D), and Marcela Mitaynes (D)—in the primaries. Of those five, Salazar, Forrest, Mamdani, and Mitaynes won their primaries. Brisport’s primary for the open Senate District 25 seat remains uncalled, but he has claimed victory.

Below is a list of races where challengers defeated incumbents. Vote totals have not been finalized, but in each instance the incumbents have either conceded or the challenger’s victory has been widely reported:

  • AD-34: Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, an immigrant and healthcare activist, defeated Assm. Michael DenDekker, who first assumed office in 2009.
  • AD-36: Mamdani defeated Assm. Aravella Simotas. Simotas was first elected in 2010. She ran unopposed that year. Before Mamdani’s 2020 primary challenge, her only other contested election, general or primary, happened in 2012.
  • AD-50: Emily Gallagher defeated Assm. Joseph Lentol. Lentol was first elected in 1972. The NYC DSA did not endorse Gallagher, but she says she is a democratic socialist.
  • AD-51: Mitaynes defeated Assm. Felix Ortiz. Ortiz was first elected in 1994 and served as Assistant Speaker of the Assembly.
  • AD-57: Souffrant Forrest defeated Assm. Walter Mosley, who was first elected in 2012. Mosley will appear on the general election ballot on the Working Families Party ticket.

12 primaries featuring Democratic incumbents in the state Assembly remain uncalled. In the Senate, one such race remains uncalled.

Candidates participate in primary forum for Hawaii’s House District 20

On July 20, the four candidates running in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s House District 20 participated in a virtual forum hosted by the Oahu County Democratic Party. 

This is the first election since 1976 when Rep. Calvin Say (D-21) will not appear on the ballot. The longtime incumbent and former House Speaker announced in May he would run instead for Honolulu City Council in 2020.

House District 20 encompasses the Honolulu neighborhoods of St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, and Kaimuki.

The candidates are Kaimuki Neighborhood Board member Becky Gardner (D), state Department of Labor program specialist Jay Ishibashi (D), St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board member Jackson Sayama (D), and attorney Derek Turbin (D).

The candidates were asked to speak about the intersection of economic and public health amid the coronavirus outbreak. All four candidates said public health should be the top priority while acknowledging the influence tourism has on the local economy. Ishibashi and Turbin suggested Hawaii begin marketing to tourists in countries with less severe coronavirus outbreaks. 

Sayama, Turbin, and Gardner also said they would prioritize creating jobs in industries distinct from tourism. Sayama mentioned growing the state’s renewable energy and cybersecurity sectors. Turbin said he would direct federal funds towards the local agriculture industry and develop a remote-worker economy. Gardner supported the Green New Deal as a means to recover from the economic downturn. 

The winner of the primary will face Julia Allen (R) in the general election.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Sherod in six-way primary for Missouri’s open Senate District 5 seat

On July 25, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed former deputy State Auditor Michelle Sherod (D) in the six-person Democratic primary for the open seat in Missouri’s Senate District 5. The paper said: “Sherod, 58, has the maturity and broad-based experience to advance [an urban-centric] agenda without brow-beating or lecturing conservatives about causes and concerns they don’t necessarily prioritize.” 

The editorial board also mentioned state Rep. Steven Roberts (D-77), another candidate in the primary, saying, “it’s important for voters to know that they have a strong alternative candidate in [Roberts], 32, … a former prosecutor,” adding, “Although Roberts has more legislative experience, Sherod clearly has more life experience.” Roberts was first elected to represent House District 77 in 2016.

Of the six candidates running, three have raised more than $10,000 according to pre-primary campaign finance reports. Sherod, Roberts, and St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green (D) raised $138,000, $273,000, and $101,000, respectively. Each candidate reported at least $20,000 cash on hand. 

Incumbent Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) is not running for re-election. She was first elected to represent District 5 in 2012.

Former St. Louis Public Schools Board member Bill Haas (D), non-profit consultant McFarlane Duncan (D), and property manager Jeremiah Church (D) are also running in the primary. The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will face Michael J. Hebron Sr. (R).

Power players

“In 2019-2020, we will work to elect Democratic senators who are committed to an economy that provides opportunity and security for America’s working families and who stand up to protect the rights of all Americans.” – Senate Majority PAC website

Founded in 2010 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the PAC has raised $148 million this cycle compared to $125 million for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senate Democrats’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Majority PAC reported more than $111.6 million in satellite spending, spending over $10 million each to oppose four Republican Senate candidates: Josh Hawley in Missouri ($18.0 million), Rick Scott in Florida ($15.8 million), Dean Heller in Nevada ($14.4 million), and Mike Braun in Indiana ($14.2 million). Other than Heller, each of the four won their races.

So far this cycle, the Senate Majority PAC has reported spending more than $1 million in three races, having already spent $5.2 million to oppose John James in Michigan, $3.6 million to oppose Susan Collins in Maine, and $1.9 million to oppose Steve Daines in Montana.